The Pinhoti Trail

Cheaha from Talladega Mountain
View of Cheaha from Talladega Mountain (Photo © Johnny Molloy)
Trail at a Glance
Length: 104 miles
States: Alabama
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Season: Year-round (can get hot in summer)
Use: Light to heavy
Condition: Good
More: Alabama Trails Association

The master path of Alabama, the Pinhoti Trail (PT) is a National Recreation Trail that extends for over 100 miles along the southernmost extension of the Appalachian Mountains. Located in the Talladega National Forest, the trail passes through two wilderness areas (Dugger Mountain and Cheaha) as well as Cheaha State Park, the site of Alabama's highest point. Those who follow the Pinhoti will find piney ridges, rock outcrops with far-reaching views, richly wooded hollows, and quiet wooded lakes fed by clear streams both small and large.

Pinhoti is the Creek Indian word for "turkey home." You may or may not see some wild turkeys on your journey, among other critters such as deer, but you will see tracks. This hiker-only trail is blazed by white turkey tracks, either painted on trees or marked with metal diamonds emblazoned with turkey tracks. The standard blue painted blazes are also used from time to time. Hikers who visit this trail during hunting season will need to acquire camping permits, available from either district ranger station. This is to inform hikers of what type of hunting is going on where. Hikers doing the entire 104 miles will need to carry all their supplies with them, though at the approximate halfway point, hikers can make about a 2.5-mile side trek to Heflin to stock up.

The trail may be the pride of Alabama, but the state of Georgia claims its share of this trail. While the completed section of the trail stops just short of Georgia, the long-term plan is to extend the Pinhoti Trail through northwest Georgia, connecting to another long trail detailed here, the Benton MacKaye Trail. The Benton MacKaye Trail currently connects to the Appalachian Trail, thus a hiker could start in Alabama and hike all the way to Maine, or even beyond to Cape Gaspe in Quebec on the International Appalachian Trail! The Pinhoti Trail through Georgia is currently a work in progress, so Pinhoti thru-hikers in Georgia have a lot of road walking to reach the Benton MacKaye Trail.


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